Scientist Captures Tremendous Gradual Movement Video of Bugs Taking Off at 3,200fps

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The deputy professor of the NC state, Dr. Adrian Smith, recently set out to record never-before-seen super slow-motion footage for his Ant Lab YouTube channel. The results are right on the border between “really instructive” and “downright stunning”.

When capturing the “subjects” for his video, Smith deliberately avoided the “stereotypical” flying insects that you’ve probably seen in front of the camera, such as butterflies, bees, and the common fly. Instead, he just collected “the weird stuff”. Insects whose escape, to the best of his knowledge, has never been caught in slow motion before.

These include (with timestamps):

  • Feather moth – 01:17
  • Firefly – 01:20
  • painted lichen moth – 02:32
  • leafroller moth – 03:14
  • rosy maple moth – 03:31
  • common stonefly (incorrectly identified in the video) – 04:00
  • Mayflies – 05:14
  • Fish fly – 06:07
  • Aphid – 07:00
  • Scorpion Fly – 07:42
  • Lacewing – 08:10

Of all of the above, the best of the bunch has to be the Painted Lichen Moth and the Rosy Maple Moth. The first looks like a watercolor with wings (see above), while the second, to show Dr. To quote Smith what a flying muppet looks like. Not really.

“It doesn’t jump or roll up its wingtips like the others, but honestly, who really cares,” says Smith. “Look at it! It is clearly the best moth. It looks like a flying muppet. As if flying off the screen here, it will likely live its life again on Fraggle Rock. “

This screenshot doesn’t really do it justice. You should definitely watch the video to get the full effect:

But it’s not just about showing cool footage. Smith takes the time to do some research on insect flight, how it might have evolved, and explain why and how flight styles differ between the various insects mentioned above.

To see never-before-seen footage, learn a few things, or if you’re just looking for an intriguing slow motion macro to fill your Friday, check out the full video above. And if you want more from Dr. Smith, check out his slow motion video of ants injecting venom at 1,000 frames per second, or check out his YouTube channel for more cool stuff.